Howdy folks, Dento here! In part one of this series I talked about how to deal with stress in your professional/academic lives, and today I’d like to talk about staying whelmed through the grind. If you’re not familiar with the term, the grind simply refers to that point in time when you’re in the middle of something and you’re not quite sure if you’ll make it to the end (here’s a great article on the topic). This can happen when you’re working on a project, running a race, losing weight, or even just getting through the workday.
Sometimes the grind feels like a large, angry man is standing over you waiting to punch
The most pertinent metaphor I can think of right now is my journey with weight loss. As you know, I decided to do the V-Diet , which is basically 28 days of having protein shakes as your primary source of nutrition. You do get four solid meals during the time period and the shakes are tasty, but it is still not a terribly enjoyable experience. What the V-diet is though, is a quick diet with a deadline set in stone. It’s 28 days and then you’re done (unless you do another one). This really appeals to me because I don’t like uncertainty. With this diet I know that I will see results, and I know how long it will take. With that in mind, I believe that keeping an eye on the finish line (and knowing how far away it is, is crucial).
Sometimes it feels like there’s a large, angry man waiting for you at the finish line
If you’ve ever been at a job (or class) you hated then you know the feeling of watching the seconds go by on the clock. You also know the familiar little mantra of “only seven hours, thirty two minutes, and twelve seconds till I’m out of here.” And while I do believe that keeping the finish line in mind is crucial, I don’t believe it is helpful to be obsessed with it. The 28 days of the V-diet is relatively short, but on day 1 it feels monumental. I remembering thinking, “Oh shit… I’m already hungry and it’s only been three hours since I started the diet. How am I going to survive 27 more days?”
Focusing on the finish line too much can make it seem like it’s getting further away
Like I said, obsessing about the finish line isn’t great for you or your sanity. You know that whatever unpleasant thing it is you’re going through will not last forever, but thinking about the end date every second of every day is not going to help. In this sense, I believe that staying in the moment is just as crucial as thinking about the end. During the diet I didn’t worry about day 28, I worried about sticking to the diet until my next shake (you get 5 during the day). After that next shake, I worried about making it to the end of the day. Breaking down an insurmountable task into manageable units is a great way to get through the day.
There’s chipping away and then there’s kicking things in the face
What big undertakings have you accomplished? How do you struggle with big tasks?